Who is Hong in "A Boat to Nowhere"?
Hong is the wife of Big Tam, the village fisherman and owner of the the only boat in the community, the Sea Breeze. Hong is a huge presence, both physically and by virtue of her personality. She is described as having "huge hands", and Kien insolently calls her "fat Auntie" (Chapter 1), and "fat one". Hong is kind of a mother-figure in the village. When Mai and Loc were brought to the community by their grandfather when Loc was only a baby, it was Hong, a "big rough woman", who took them to her heart and made them "like (her) own", and when the renegade urchin Kien arrives, it is Hong who is charged with the duty of feeding him, and Hong and Big Tam who take him in.
Hong is a very vocal, emotional woman. Although she complains freely about having to feed Kien, who has a voracious appetite, she puts up with his rude manners and remarks without too much resistance, other than her loud lamenting. Bound by the rules of her culture, she prepares food for Kien and whole-heartedly takes care of his needs from the time of his arrival, because Thay Van Chi, the village elder, has asked her to. She does announce that "she (is) glad to cook and take care of Thay Van Chi and his family, but feeding a beggar brat she (does) not enjoy" (Chapter 2). Hong is perceptive about people, and she warns Thay Van Chi that the horrific life Kien has led has "left him hard...taken all the goodness out of him" (Chapter 3).